Canadian Woodworking

Hammer drill


A hammer drill is similar to a con­ventional drill/driver in that it uses rotational force to turn a drill bit or driver bit. However, it also uses a hammering function to create a vibrating action.

Author: Carl Duguay
Illustration: Len Churchill

However, it also uses a hammering function to create a vibrating action, causing energy to be transferred to the chuck and the bit. The vibrating action causes the bit to chip away at whatever it’s hammering against. A hammer drill exerts force in line with the bit as it hits the material being drilled, making it the tool of choice for drill­ing holes in masonry and concrete. An impact driver is somewhat similar to a hammer drill, but it increases the force being delivered perpendicular to the bit, making it the preferred tool for driving large screws and lag bolts. A hammer drill shouldn’t be confused with a rotary hammer, which uses a pis­ton, driven by a motor and gearing system, to pound a bit into mate­rial, which makes it a preferred tool among construction workers. In general, hammer drills are suit­able both for drilling and driving long and wide screws and lag bolts into wood, and for hammer drilling holes up to about 3/4″ diameter in concrete block or brick. There are also hammer drill/driver tools that provide two modes of operation: a conventional “drilling and driving mode” that you use when accuracy in hole size and depth is crucial; and a “hammering mode” that adds a pounding force to the tool for extra-hard materials. Hammer drills are available in both corded and cord­less formats.

Price: $70 to $400 (corded)
$100 – $550 (cordless with battery)
Cordless battery platform: 12V, 18/20V, 40V
Speed: up to 2,600 RPM
Pounding power: up to 39,000 BPM (blows per minute)
Torque: up to 1,250 in-lbs

Get the Most Out of Your Hammer Drill

Two hands required

Hammer drills are more power­ful than drill/drivers. Almost all come with a 360° rotatable side handle – use it.

Use the right bit

Always use bits specifically rated for hammer drills. Carbide-tipped bits rated for percussion drilling are the best choice. If the tip of the bit gets damaged or becomes worn, replace it.

Sneak up

It’s often easier to start drilling with a smaller diameter drill bit and then switch to a larger bit to increase the hole to its final size.

Take it easy

Start on a low torque setting and increase it only if necessary. You only need to apply enough pressure to keep the hammer drill from bouncing or skipping around. Too much force slows down the tool and might cause it to overheat. Keep the drill per­pendicular to the workpiece so that dust and debris can more easily exit the drill flutes.

Protect your eyes

Hammer drills throw out a lot of dust and chips. Always wear eye protection.

Last modified: November 27, 2023

Carl Duguay - [email protected]

Carl is a Victoria-based furniture maker and the web editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Check out other tool articles
Government support acknowlege
Partnership ontario
Username: Password: